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Jayhawks' top ranking first in almost 50 years

11/8/2004

Sure, Kansas often grabs a spot in the upper half of the AP
preseason college basketball poll, but the school hasn't been No. 1
since a player named Wilt Chamberlain suited up for the Jayhawks in
the 1950s.

Kansas stood atop The Associated Press' Top 25 on Monday, the
13th straight season the Jayhawks have been ranked 11th or higher
in the first poll.

The Jayhawks received 25 first-place votes and 1,697 points from
the national media panel, edging Wake Forest, which had 22
first-place votes and 1,680 points.

The Demon Deacons were the first of three straight Atlantic
Coast Conference teams in the poll, and six teams from the league
were in the Top 25.

Wayne Simien leads four starters back for Kansas, which lost to
Georgia Tech in the NCAA Tournament's regional finals last season.
The Jayhawks were ranked No. 1 for one week last season and they
have been ranked No. 2 in five of the last 12 preseason polls.

"I hope we're never going to be satisfied and our veterans
understand they've got to go play. It's nice, but it means nothing
in the big scheme of things," second-year Kansas coach Bill Self
said.

The Jayhawks hope they can do even better than the last time
they were No. 1 in the preseason: In 1956-57, Chamberlain led them
to the national championship game, a triple-overtime loss to North
Carolina.

As for Wake Forest, it has all five starters back from the team
that lost to Saint Joseph's in the round of 16.

"You see it, you look at it, and you shake your head, but you
can't waste one nanosecond to worry about it," Demon Deacons coach
Skip Prosser said, referring to the lofty ranking, which matches
the highest in school history in any AP poll.

Georgia Tech and North Carolina were third and fourth in the
balloting. It is the second time in three years one conference has
had the Nos. 2-4 in the preseason poll. The Big 12's Kansas,
Oklahoma and Texas were in that order in 2002.

No. 11 Duke, No. 15 Maryland and No. 19 North Carolina State
round out the ACC teams in the poll.

"It's a tough, tough league," Prosser said. "I don't think
that'll ever change."

Illinois, where Self coached before heading to Kansas, was
fifth. He succeeded Roy Williams, who went to North Carolina. The
two coaches have ties to three of the top five.

"So, I've got a 1 and a 5 and Roy's got a 1 and a 4," Self
said. "What are you guys trying to do to us?"

Syracuse was sixth, followed by Oklahoma State, defending
national champion Connecticut, Kentucky and Arizona.

After Duke came Mississippi State, Michigan State, Louisville,
Maryland, Texas, Pittsburgh, Alabama, NC State and Notre Dame.

The last five teams in the poll were Wisconsin, Washington,
Florida, Memphis and Gonzaga.

Six of the teams in the final poll last season were not ranked
this preseason, including Stanford and Saint Joseph's, two schools
that reached No. 1 during 2003-04.

Stanford, No. 1 in the final poll, lost 18-year coach Mike
Montgomery and All-American Josh Childress to the NBA. The Cardinal
missed the preseason Top 25 by one place.

Saint Joseph's, No. 1 in the next-to-last poll and fifth in the
final voting last season, lost its backcourt of senior Jameer
Nelson, the consensus national player of the year, and Delonte
West, a junior who went to the NBA.

The Hawks didn't get a single vote in the preseason balloting.

"It will be different, but we take each team as a separate
entity," Saint Joseph's coach Phil Martelli said. "Last year
wasn't just about a great team. It was more about our attempt to
develop a great program."

Georgia Tech and North Carolina each received 10 first-place
votes, while Illinois and Oklahoma State got two each, and Kentucky
had one.

Connecticut was the preseason No. 1 last year before winning it
all, the 24th time that happened since the poll started for the
1948-49 season.

Eight conferences were represented in the preseason Top 25. The
Big East and Southeastern Conference followed the ACC with four
teams each, while the Big 12 and Big 10 had three each. The Pac-10
and Conference USA each had two teams, while Gonzaga of the West
Coast Conference was the only Top 25 team not from one of the power
leagues.